Reports of RIM's demise may be premature but the company's precarious situation might be a concern for officials at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office. For the better part of a decade, RIM has been one of CIPO's best customers; since 2005-2006 it has consistently ranked as the top patent applicant in Canada. Last year RIM filed 569 new patent applications and received 244 patents. RIM's application and examination fees and the maintenance fees its pays on its large portfolio of patents represent a fair bit of income for the CIPO. The current standard filing fee for a patent application is $400, so RIM's 569 applications last year would have cost at least $227,000. If RIM dramatically reduces the number of applications it files, or stops filing altogether, it will cost the CIPO hundreds of thousands in lost revenue. If RIM sells all or part of its patent portfolio, then presumably the new owners would continue to pay the maintenance fees in order to prevent the patents from expiring.
I'm the librarian for research services in the Engineering and Science Library at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. I've been working with patent information since 1991, including seven years at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I believe that the dissemination of patent information is a public good and should be promoted, especially in the education of science and engineering students.